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Original case file, copy can't be located, retired cop testifies

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

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THE investigating officer in the 2006 murders of six St Thomas family members yesterday disclosed during the trial of the accused, Michael McLean, that the original case file he had prepared, as well as a copy of the file, cannot be located.

The retired detective inspector said the case file included a victim statement and caution statement given by the accused.

Retired Detective Inspector Carlos Bell testified in the Supreme Court yesterday that he has not seen either file since he prepared them and sent them to the Corporate Area Parish Court, formerly the Half-Way-Tree Resident Magistrate's Court.

When asked by Director of Public Prosecution Paula Llewellyn how many times he had searched for the files, Bell said “more than 10 times in the last two to three years” since he was told about their disappearance.

The retired inspector further testified that he has visited the Morant Bay CIB office and the court office repeatedly to look for the files and had even searched his attaché case, but to no avail.

His testimony about the missing file follows that of his colleague, Detective Inspector Carlton James, who first testified on Monday that he has not been able to locate the original copy of the victim statement which McLean had given and he had prepared. The court heard that the victim statement was taken from McLean after he turned himself in to police personnel on February 27, 2006, a day after five of the bodies were found.

Bell, however, testified that he was the one who had taken the caution statement from McLean and had made copies of the typed statement after McLean sent a message that he wanted to give this statement to the police.

According to Bell, McLean gave the statement on March 2 at the Flying Squad office via a question-and-answer session. He said, too, that during the questioning, the accused appeared “very calm and comfortable”.

However, he also told the court that while being questioned, McLean, who was in the presence of two attorneys and other police officers, stopped the session and said: “Stop here, I need to take you and show you where the little girl is buried.”

“I asked, 'What girl?' and he said, 'Jihad',” Bell recalled.

He said a police party along with the two lawyers then travelled to Rose Mount in St Mary, via direction from McLean, who led them to what appeared to be a cow pasture and showed them where the decomposing body of the child was buried in a shallow grave.

The police witness said McLean was taken to the Castle Garden Police Station where he completed his caution statement and was transported back to Kingston, where he was charged with six counts of murder.

Bell, during his testimony, also told the court that when McLean first surrendered to the police, he informed him that he was willing to tell him what had happened.

The witness testified that McLean was not coerced, oppressed, beaten, threatened, or promised any favour or reward in respect to the statements that he had given or the location of the body that he had volunteered.

McLean is being tried for the murder of his girlfriend Terry-Ann Mohammed, 42; her son Jesse O'Gilvie, nine; her 30-year-old niece, Patrice Martin McCool, and her children Sean Chin, nine; Lloyd McCool, three; and Jihad McCool.

Meanwhile, the court heard that Jihad was smothered to death and found with her eyes bulging and tongue protruding through her teeth, while the other five victims, who were found with chop wounds to their necks, died as a result of their throats being slashed.

The trial continues today before Justice Bertram Morrison.

— Tanesha Mundle

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